How to attend a convention: Tips for going to fan cons

Things to consider, whether it’s your first or fiftieth time attending.

A group of people in costume pose for a photo
Photo via FanExpo

Are you planning to attend a convention? Then you probably want to come prepared.

How to attend a convention sounds sort of basic, but there are informal understandings and mores to familiarize yourself with. Here are few things to consider ahead of time.

Make your intentions clear: What do you want out of the day? Autographs, sketches, panels, whale-hunting, bargain shopping, cosplaying, etc. If you have goals, prioritize them. You’ll have a more fulfilling time if you make sure you find exactly what you want.

Make a plan: Read the program and check out the floor map before you get there. It’s a big, often crowded space—find your bearings before having your senses bombarded.

Budget yourself, then re-budget for more: There will be things you feel you can’t pass up buying, even after you’ve reached your imposed limit. I’m not saying to make it rain, just give yourself some flexibility.

Don’t neglect Artist Alley: All the good cons have an Artist Alley, where amateur, up-and-coming, and professional artists have tables to sell their wares, original art, and sign a book or two. If you want to support the art you love directly, this is the place to do it.

Snacks & sanitizer: It’ll be a long day and concessions are often at theme park prices, so take a granola bar or two. Regarding sanitizer, even before the pandemic, con flu was a real thing – wash your hands.

Pack for space: If you plan to go shopping, bring a comfortable bag with some space. It could be a long day, so you want to make sure you can carry your swag comfortably.

Sundays are for deals–Respect the vendor: Even though a con is where you can get a great deal, don’t aggressively haggle a vendor until at least the last day of the show. If they initiate bargaining, sure. But you aren’t at a garage sale, so be cool.

    • Portrait of Noel Bartocci

      Noel Bartocci (he/him) is an eclectic writer who’s called Philadelphia home since 2010. He creates content and marketing materials for the healthcare, financial, commerce, and higher ed spaces professionally, but prefers to write about what he loves–art, comics, movies, music, craft beer, and boujee coffee.

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